Road Trips

An earthen segment of Old State Road 67 and an abandoned bridge

NB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

The original 1926 path of State Road 67 between Edwardsport and Bicknell, in Knox County in southwest Indiana, is jagged.

Courtesy Richard Simpson, https://intransporthistory.home.blog/2020/04/18/road-trip-1926-sr-67/

This isn’t surprising. In the early days, state highways were routed along existing roads. Especially on a road that runs southwest-northeast as this one does, zig-zagging was often necessary. Also, highways often had to be routed around existing farm boundaries.

The state always intended to straighten out these highways. I’m betting the current alignment of SR 67 here was built before the 1930s ended. I say that because so much of this original alignment is a gravel road. Most of the original Indiana highway network was not hard surfaced in its early days, and it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the last gravel highway was hard surfaced in Indiana.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

This is what Old SR 67 looks like south of Edwardsport.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

To my astonishment, right after I crossed current SR 67 on a north-south segment of this zig-zagged road I found this earthen road. Google Maps labels this as Pieper Road, but as you can see, it hasn’t been a road in a very long time. It looks to me like whoever farms this land uses this to access his fields, but that’s about it.

Dead end

This mound of debris blocked the way. This is usually a sign that a bridge used to be ahead but is now missing. However, in this case the bridge is still there.

Purdy Marsh Bridge
Purdy Marsh Bridge

This is the Purdy Marsh Bridge, a Pratt pony truss bridge built in 1905. I don’t know when it closed, but it received inspections through 2013. At that time, the bridge was considered to be in poor condition overall. Its deck and substructure were in serious condition, and the superstructure was in critical condition. In other words, this bridge was a basket case.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Amusingly, there are stop signs at either end of this segment. As if anyone is going to ever see them.

Welcoming committee

The welcoming committee came out to greet me while I was on the bridge.

I turned my car around and drove north back to SR 67, which I followed to Snyder Road. I turned left onto Snyder, which is also the original alignment of SR 67 until it meets Pieper Road.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Here’s the bridge from there, facing northbound.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

Here’s the last bit of Pieper Road southbound toward Snyder Road.

Welcoming committee

The welcoming committee came out again and met me directly.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

Here’s westbound Snyder Road from Pieper Road, the original path of southbound SR 67.

I’ve been exploring the old roads since 2006 and have seen a lot of exciting things — 100-year-old concrete and brick pavement, places where a road was clearly removed, plenty of abandoned bridges. But never have I ever come across an earthen segment of an old highway!

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Preservation, Road Trips

The 1893 Lamb’s Creek Bridge on Old State Road 67 in Morgan County, Indiana

My longtime friend Dawn and I resumed our annual road-trip tradition on October 1 as we explored the oldest alignments of State Road 67 southwest from Indianapolis, working our way to its endpoint at Vincennes. We made it about two-thirds of the way before it got late and we grew tired. I’ll share highlights from the trip here and there, and will write up the entire trip properly for my Friday road trips series in due time.

State Road 67 brushes past Martinsville just beyond its eastern boundary. About a half mile south of where you turn left to head into Martinsville, an old alignment of SR 67 splits off on your right.

About a mile from there southbound SR 67 crosses this terrific old bridge over Lamb’s Creek.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Built in 1893 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, OH, this is a Pratt through truss design. As I researched this bridge, I found its page at the Historic American Engineering Record and was amused to find that a long-ago photographer parked his car in about the same place as me for his similar image.

Based on damage I see in this photograph, the HAER photographer visited here before this bridge’s restoration, which was probably in the 2004-2006 timeframe based on the best information I can find.

I’m trying to recall how many Pratt bridges I’ve seen with cables for its diagonal members. I’m used to the diagonals being girders just like the framing of the truss here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Pratt bridge where diagonals cross like an X at the center.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Here’s a view of those cables.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

This is a pin-connected bridge. Here’s where several of the members come together overhead.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Builder’s plates on either end are in terrific condition.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

The old highway continues its southwestward journey beyond the bridge. This narrow road is typical of the highways Indiana built in the 1920s. It’s probably 14 or 16 feet wide.

SB Old SR 67 towards Hyndsdale, IN

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See Rock City

See Rock City
Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF Nikkor
2022

On State Road 67 just north of Spencer, Indiana, you’ll find this red barn. Rock City features enormous ancient rock formations and the ability to see seven states from atop Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. A number of barns in many states were painted with advertisements like this for Rock City during the attraction’s early days.

I follow the blog of David Jenkins, a professional photographer. One of his major projects was to photograph every Rock City barn that remained. He used paper records that Rock City kept and drove all over to find and photograph them all. He published a book of his photographs called Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. The book is out of print. You can find them used on Amazon but I think David might still have some new copies he’d be happy to sell you. Check out his blog here.

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Photographs, Road Trips

single frame: See Rock City

An Indiana barn advertising a tourist attraction in Tennessee.

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Tin ceiling

Tin ceiling
Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF Nikkor
2022

It’s tradition when my friend Dawn and I take a road trip that we stop for ice cream along the way. There has never failed to be an ice cream shop, even if it was just a Dairy Queen, on every road trip.

Our road trip tradition was annual from 2006 until the pandemic interrupted it. This was our first post-pandemic trip, and it felt great to be on the road again.

We explored all of the oldest alignments we could find of Indiana State Road 67 southwest from Indianapolis. When we reached Worthington we found the Route 67 Ice Cream and Diner. Inside we found a shiny, sparkling tin ceiling. It looked so good that it had to be brand new. I brought my Nikon Df to my eye to make this image. I assume that the lighting fooled the meter, turning the ceiling gray. But I love the look. Check out all of that detail!

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Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Tin ceiling

A brand new tin ceiling in a small town diner.

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